IGNITING children's passions in science and technology is the only way we can avoid future global catastrophes.

That was the rallying call of Professor Robert Winston (who prefers that title to being called Lord Winston) before he took to the stage at Reading University on Thursday for Europe's largest

science exhibition.

The esteemed doctor, scientist, peer and television presenter addressed crowds at the Association of Science Education (ASE) Conference held on the university's Whiteknights Campus.

The five-day event, which climaxed on Saturday, attracted 3,000 professors, teachers and technicians from across the world who explored the latest developments in their field, and Sir David Attenborough chose the event to launched his new 3D DVD.

Before his speech Prof Winston told The Midweek: "We are living in more dangerous times now than ever before and we are going to need science and technology to solve all sorts of problems. Many of these are man-made such as climate change. There is a real risk of global warming with people being swamped by rising water, but we also have to curtail water shortages. We need to be more science literate than ever before so we can address these things."

He complained science was "undervalued" by government and called for a greater partnership between primary and secondary schools and at universities to educate children. He added: "There has been too much emphasis on science being important to the economy. Science is not just there to make us richer but it makes us richer as individuals and as a society.

"It should be seen as an important component of human culture. Our whole community will not survive without it."

He praised Reading University for its scientific expertise but warned many British universities were in danger of losing out in the Coalition Government's swingeing cuts.

He said: "It's a fatal error of judgement